Driver still getting TxTag toll bills years after selling car

Investigations

AUSTIN (KXAN) — When Lyndsi Parker sold her Hyundai Elantra more than three years ago, she says she took all the right steps to make sure the car was in her rearview mirror.   

“We ensured, as far as the state of Texas is concerned, that the vehicle does not belong to us,” Parker explained this week.

That included transferring the car title, registration and deleting the Elantra from her TxTag account.

But to this day, she’s still getting toll charges for another driver’s behavior in an entirely different part of the state.

“[The driver] has gone through a few tolls unknowingly—more like 25,” she said. “The problem is, how do we get it to stop?”

Parker has certainly tried. She’s been on the phone more than five hours combined with customer service from TxTag under the Texas Department of Transportation.

Parker says the billing issues have been as befuddling to the state’s toll road authority as they’ve been to her.

“They say ‘this doesn’t look right, [they’re] going to do some investigating, and they’ll call back,’” said Parker. “We say ‘oh great.’”

She says she’s now on her third help ticket with TxTag. Twice before, TxTag has checked with the Harris County Toll Road Authority, where the new owner has been driving toll roads.

But for Parker, the answer is never satisfying. Her help ticket then closes.

“Per the information provided, the TXTAG account accepted the transactions after the vehicle was removed from the account,” a recent response from TxTag to Parker reads. “As this was not a HCTRA error and HCTRA cannot resubmit transactions once they have successfully posted to an account, HCTRA will not authorize credits for the tolls.”

KXAN has been investigating billing and customer service issues with TxTag and the Department of Transportation for years.

To try and correct those problems, Governor Greg Abbott signed a bill into law last year that prohibits toll entities from sending an invoice to the owner of the vehicle without first checking to see whether there’s an active electronic toll account like TxTag tied to that vehicle.

“There is some kind of miscommunication that’s not happening,” said Parker.

We have been asking TxDOT about Parker’s case for the last two days. The toll authority says it is still looking into her case, and the Harris County Toll Road Authority is also trying to help.

“Regarding Ms. Parker’s issue, HCTRA’s Customer Service team is currently working with TxTAG’s Customer Service team on her behalf, and we’re hopeful they will resolve and correct this issue going forward,” said a spokesperson for HCTRA.

“How many other people and businesses are getting the same charges and not seeing the amongst the bunch?” asked Parker. “If TxTag can’t figure out how to fix this, then it’s a real problem.”

Toll companies and sharing drivers’ data

Interoperability agreements allow tolling agencies to share driver data between one another.

This shared data includes the TxTag tag number, license plate number (associated with tag), account balance (valid/invalid), and the account number. If a customer does not have a tag, then the license plate number and account balance status are the only things that are shared.

The Harris County Toll Road Authority adds other shared data includes the date, time and location the driver drove through a toll.

“When the data is received by TxDOT, they in turn accept it if they identify it as belonging to a TxTAG account, or reject it,” said an HCTRA spokesperson. “If it were rejected by TxDOT, HCTRA would then pursue that transaction through DMV records.”

TxTag says the database containing drivers’ information is updated every four to six hours.

While TxDOT has not yet answered questions about Parker’s case, the agency offered a list of to-dos for car sellers and buyers to make sure a transaction is fully complete:

  • TxDOT said it is the vehicle seller’s responsibility to file a transfer notification form (Form VTR-346) with the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles, which can be found here.  
  • If a seller’s vehicle had a TxTag, the seller should remove the TxTag from the vehicle and remove the vehicle from their TxTag account by logging into the account online or by calling the TxTag Customer Service Center. 
  • A seller may also remove the license plates from a vehicle when it is sold.  If a seller elects to allow the license plates to remain with the vehicle, it is the responsibility of the car’s new owner to transfer the license plate number. For more information, buyers and sellers can visit the FAQ section of TxTag.org.

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